Senate Bill 83: Removes Immunization Exemption Option

Oklahoma
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Last Updated: January 30, 2017
Senate Bill 83: Removes Immunization Exemption Option
Sponsors:
Senator Ervin Yen
Summary:

Senate Bill 83 is going to eliminate one main option that Oklahoma parents currently have to object to the immunization of their child. Oklahoma law currently allows a parent to submit either 1) a certificate from a licensed doctor that a child’s condition is such that immunization would endanger their life or health, or 2) a written statement that objects to the immunization of their child. The parent’s objection to immunizations could be for any reason, religious, philosophical, or otherwise.

Removing this option would significantly limit the parent when they have concerns about giving one more vaccines to their child(ren). Even if a parent had provided all of the required immunizations but wanted to decline one specific vaccine they would not be able to enroll the child in school under Senate Bill 83 unless they obtained a certificate from their doctor stating that the vaccine would endanger the life or health of the child.

Under this bill virtually every child attending public or private school would have to have all of the immunizations required in Oklahoma. Currently a child entering Kindergarten would need 15-18 immunizations and a boy or girl who attends child care in Oklahoma would need anywhere from 16-22 total immunizations. For more information on the immunization go here: https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/IMM_School&Childcare_Guide_to_Imm_Reqs_OK_2016-17.pdf . So, hypothetically, if a parent didn’t want to give their child the Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine their only option would be to have a doctor state that this vaccine would endanger their child’s life or health if Senate Bill 83 were to pass. It is highly unlikely that any parent would ever be able to get their doctor to state this.

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.
Action Requested:

Please contact Senator Ervin Yen and give him this message in your own words (please be respectful but understand that Sen. Yen has made up his mind when it comes to immunizations):
“Please withdraw Senate Bill 83. I believe that a parent should be able to determine what immunizations their children should have. Removing the option for a parent to drop to a particular vaccine because of religious, philosophical, or personal objection undermines the fundamental right a parent has to determine what is in the best interest of their child. As a parent I should be trusted to make the best decision for my children. I am opposed to Senate Bill 83.”
You can reach Senator Yen at:
Email:  yen@oksenate.gov
Phone: (405) 521-5543
Sen. Yen’s assistant is Laurie Nicoll

Status:

Introduced     01/04/2017
First Reading     02/06/2017

Background:
Parents who educate their children home are not currently required to immunize their children. This is because they provide other means of education to their children and they are not considered to be operating a school. Since homeschool children are not enrolled in a public or private school they are not required to show proof of immunization. However, HSLDA opposes this bills as a parental rights issue. 
 
Some people have asked if they teach their children at home through a public school at home program are they exempt from the immunization requirement. The answer is no. The law is clear, for the child to be admitted to school this bill would apply to them. Virtual schools are public schools and therefore any person seeking to have their children admitted into these programs would be required to either show proof of immunization or have a doctor sign a medical excuse. Under Senate Bill 83 no parent would be able to provide a written exemption anymore. 
 
For those parents who have previously submitted an exemption for their child they would have to prove the immunization status of their children or get a medical exemption by the 2017-2018 school year. 
 

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History